CQ CQ CQ This is Whiskey Delta Tango Papa Romeo Sierra … ECHOLINK & APRS

UPDATE 6 Sept:

No, I haven’t worked on my General in the last week or so, and, No, I haven’t done anything with Echolink yet.  However, the other day I did figure out today how to send APRS messages with my handheld.  I sent a few test messages and I also was able to spot myself on the map.   Since I am in Grand Rapids, MI at the moment, I may have another try at it.   Shouldn’t be all that different, I suppose.

Yes… that worked:




ORIGINAL Published on: Aug 6, 2014

Or I should say this is Kilo Charlie Niner Zulu Juliette November

This morning I chatted briefly with one of the congregants after Mass who is also a frequent commentator here and who is also a HAM radio operator.  Our chat reminded me that I have left these matters languishing for a while.  No, I haven’t done my General exam yet.

We may need these skills when … you know.

So!  Here’s a little contact just to rev things back up.

Who out there is on the air?



There have been a couple developments.  Not only have many hams chimed in, there is some talk of using Echolink.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Ham Radio, Just Too Cool, Lighter fare, Semper Paratus, TEOTWAWKI, What Fr. Z is up to and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. OrthodoxChick says:

    I’m not out there yet, but since my new job is in a local hospital, and since you mention emergency preparedness so frequently, I’m thinking it would be good for me to get a HAM license once I get over the learning curve at the new job. To my knowledge, not too many folks in my community are HAM operators and I think it would be a good way to both serve my own family, as well as my neighbors in case of disaster. Plus, it just sounds like a boatload of fun to learn. I was an auxiliary police office back in my youth 100 years ago, so the 10 codes should be no biggie. I wonder how long it takes to learn morse code?

  2. dahveed says:

    Hi Father. Not on the air yet, but hope to be sometime next weekend. I’m attending a Hamcram on Saturday, looking forward to obtaining my Technician’s license. If I may be humbly permitted, 73. ;)

  3. thefeds says:

    Fr. Z,
    While I am not a ham operator, my father, Art, was one for over 45 years. His call sign was W8PNW. There were many times that I sat next to him while he was calling CQ CQ. He played a vital part in relief efforts during many natural disasters all around the world, and had letters of appreciation from many governments. It’s a very important role.

  4. WMBriggs says:


    My HT sits daily in front of me, ever off, because why? Because I prefer HF. But being in a small apartment in NYC makes it impossible.

    It’s hard enough listen to baseball, let alone the far side of the world.


  5. OrthodoxChick says:

    I meant the NATO/IRS phonetics, not the 10 codes. Apology for the brain stutter.

  6. pledbet424 says:

    WB0MZT, Denver. We’re moving to a house with acre house in a month or so, so I’m not up and running. With 40 acres, I’ll have plenty of room for antennas!

  7. pledbet424 says:

    Need to proofread…We’re moving to a house with 40 acres….

  8. WB0YLE here. On 20 meters, even as I type. The cycle seems to be on its decline (not that it was really a barnburner, except for notable occasions over the last few years), but, operating technique and stick-to-itveness will pull the contacts out when you least expect it.

    And that’s with only 100w. Very rarely turn on the KW amp.

    And, getting into DMR (digital mobile radio) heavily on UHF. Have one Mototrbo repeater up in Falls Twp PA, planning for 2 more from here down to north of Baltimore, all net connected into the DMR-MARC network. And, building out the NY/PHL 220MHz network; right now, have a machine in NYC (224.66 127,3 PL), Martinsville (224.64 151.4 PL), and Morrisville (224.54 141.3 PL); extending down to south of PHL soon with another machine, all linked via Allstar (www.allstarlink.org).

    Doing my best. And have that HF rig and G5RV antenna sitting here for you when you do pass the general…lol.

  9. acardnal says:

    WBoYLE, good to see you are still a reader here!

    Because I currently live in a condo, the Association does not allow external antennas so I can’t do my HF thing here. Perhaps I will put an antenna up in the attic or on my car bumper or go portable in a park. So, in the meantime, I use my Yaesu HT on 2 meters now and then when I get an itch.

    The next time you are on a road trip to St Paul or Chicago, put your mag mount on the car roof and have some QSOs while you are on the road. You just have to get on the right repeater freqs as you travel.


  10. acardnal says:

    “The next time you are on a road trip to St Paul or Chicago, put your mag mount on the car roof and have some QSOs while you are on the road. You just have to get on the right repeater freqs as you travel.”

    The above comment was directed to Fr. Z.

  11. jflare says:

    In a way, I suppose I’m commenting both to this posting and to the posting about disaster preparedness. I have, over the past two years, made many preparations for a widespread civic difficulty. I do have a fair idea of what I can do in handling a crisis.
    Regrettably, I have not been able to pursue much of anything related to ham radio in the last several months, nor do I expect to be capable of doing so before next summer. I find that taking courses toward an MBA and working full time occupy most of my time. I do intend, however, to pursue more with ham radio–and several other concerns–once I finish this phase of a paying education.

    In other words, do me a favor and pray that none of us shall suffer a major civic problem before the end of next year. By then, I will have had time to complete my degree and possibly will have begun growing better acquainted with ham radio. In particular, I would like to be capable of becoming a storm spotter and/or emergency communications provider for people. With my background in weather, I think I’d be well suited for the former at least.
    Regrettably, while I can find a web page for a local ham club, I had little luck catching anything the last time I tried tuning in.

  12. FloridaJoan says:

    Am on 20 m mostly ( when propagation allows); currently P/4 at the cabin in the north GA mountains. Am waiting to hear you on HF Father !

    W4JMJ ( vanity call for … yup… you guessed it … Jesus Mary Joseph)

  13. Glennonite says:

    I’ve rececntly earned my Tech licesure and am working toward General. I highly recommend http://www.hamtestonline.com as a tutorial site. For about $25 bucks you can quickly and efficiently prep for your license. I passed my test with 100% in a couple of weeks. Repetition and explanation as much as you like. 10/10.

  14. Mike Morrow says:

    “I wonder how long it takes to learn morse code?”

    In 1991, Morse proficiency was eliminated for the Technician class license.

    In 2000, half-century-old 13-word-per-minute and 20-wpm Morse proficiency requirements were diluted to only a five wpm requirement for all classes, even Amateur Extra.

    In 2007, Morse proficiency was totally eliminated as a requirement for all US FCC radio amateur licensing.

    Things are more equal when standards are lowered or eliminated.

  15. Uxixu says:

    I did my general and technician in one go. I took the Extra at the same time but didn’t really study for it and didn’t pass that part. That one was pretty hard. General gives me most most of what I want to do.

    I am mostly doing VHF and UHF, though from either a Yaesu or Baofeng HT. One of these days I’ll get my dream KX3.

    If/when I get a PO box, I would share my call sign in a public forum….

  16. RANCHER says:

    N7WR here–ham for the past 56 years and still active. Get the General Father. If TEOTWAWKI comes having HF capability will be more beneficial than VHF/UHF …but then as a General Class licensee you would have both. Would love to “work you” on 20 or 40 meters once you get the General and get a station (small station will work the world) set up
    73 from NE Oregon

    [If TEOTWAWKI, then licenses won’t matter. But knowledge, equipment and experience will.]

  17. Mary Jane says:

    My hubby is KD5AYJ. He bought some new equipment recently and also designed, built, and set up an antenna tower in our yard. He’s been encouraging me to study and take the exam, but in the meantime, I’ve been enjoying watching him work the radio.

  18. JBBIII says:

    AD7QQ, 20 meters usually, digital modes such as Olivia, PSK, and FM satellites.

  19. Patrick L. says:

    AG4JQ. I haven’t been on the air in years. I would like to get back on at some point, though. (I’ve read that St. Maximilian Kolbe was SP3RN.)

  20. Dr Guinness says:

    VK3SJB is the callsign I use most.

    I’m usually QRT on 70cm/2m, so not a fair chance of picking up other WDTPRS followers. Maybe if I shuffle down to some HF freqs I could put out a call!

  21. MacBride says:

    General class KC2MEO…Adirondack region of New York and Western Vermont. What are you using to study for your general?

  22. Evan C says:

    KC9ZJN de N5EDC. Originally licensed as KC9WAI in Terre Haute, IN as General Class (took Technician and General at once) and then upgraded to Amateur Extra in June of this year.

    I work mostly 20m PSK-31, using in-attic random-length loop antenna with an LDG RT-100 remote autotuner.

    Need to work on TEOTWAWKI setup for power..

  23. Doug R says:

    Yo! Extra-class, here, but not currently active on HF. Have been mostly inactive for the past few years, but actually pulled out and dusted off the HT this morning.

    I’ve got my physical address on my license, otherwise I’d share my call.

  24. LarryW2LJ says:

    Nice to see so many Hams here, and especially nice to see WB0YLE on here. Brian and I belong to the same repeater club, the Raritan Valley Radio Club in NJ.

    I got on for a bit yesterday and worked W1AW/0 in South Dakota and OK2DX from the Czech Republic. I always bring my Elecraft KX3 with me to work, and spend lunchtime in the car trying to work a little QRP each day.

    And yes, St. Max was SP3RN and his feast day is coming up soon. As one of the martyrs, I think we could use his prayers, especially, these days. I have to root around for the information, but there is a St Max net of like minded Catholics Hams on 80 Meters on Sunday nights. If I can find the time and frequency, I will post it.

  25. Pearl says:

    Kc8jsl here.

    My hubby got his extra class license in less than a month, start to finish. And, it was back in the days of code requirements. Of course, it helps to be an electrical engineer.

    Although we rarely use it for anything else, it is very helpful to listen to the storm chasers here where tornados are not uncommon. Someday we will take the storm chaser training! Someday…

    88’s, only because I am a woman and I can.

  26. MattH says:

    Got the Technician license when I was a teenager and have a 2 meter radio which I have not fired up in far too long. This post has motivated me to go check whether it still works!

    I also still have the set of cassette tapes for when I intended to learn Morse code so I could upgrade to General… actually didn’t even know until reading these comments that is no longer a requirement!

  27. OrthodoxChick says:

    Mike Morrow,

    Thanks for the info. Good to know!

  28. OrthodoxChick says:

    OK Father, you and all of your readers above have got me pretty excited about learning this. I just googled around and found out the HAM club in my area meets once a month right where my new job is. Cool! If anyone’s curious, you can check it out at this link, and maybe give their Facebook page a “Like”, if you’re so inclined. It looks like the club in my area runs 8 week course sessions from time-to-time. Not sure when their next class will be.


    Before I bite off more than I can chew, a few more newb questions for those of you with experience:

    1. How hard is it to learn HAM?
    2. How long does it take to learn what you need and pass the basic exams to get licensed and up and running? Would one 8 week course do it, or is there much more needed?
    3. Is the equipment expensive?

  29. ghp95134 says:

    Or I should say this is Kilo Charlie Niner Zulu Jolly November

    Hams use “Jolly” vice “Juliet”???


    [Darn… I slipped into Italian there. In Italian the phonetic alphabet has Jolly for J. Must correct now.]

  30. Pearl says:


    How hard it is really depends on personal aptitude. If you were one of those kids who refused to take math and science in high school and college, it might be more difficult for you. If you have a basic understanding of physics, you will be fine.

    There are only two things you need to answer every question ever asked by mankind: the Truths of the Catholic faith, and physics.

    Good luck!

  31. Fr. Bryan says:

    Just got the Tech License and mt call sign. Starting to study for the General.

  32. Passed the General earlier this year. Spent a few days going through the flash cards here: https://hamstudy.org
    After I finished the General exam, I went on and took the Extra immediately afterward… and missed passing by two points. I just have not had the time to go back and take it again. Maybe next winter.

  33. Well…with all the hams here (and amateur operators, too…:)); I have a 15-slot Echolink node running under my callsign (with a -R suffix) that’s available, if any of you would like to start up or run an Echolink net. Echolink-based rosary or novena anyone? Who says the new evangelization is limited to papal tweets and facebook likes? (Just remember, my callsign is in ‘0’ land, not the ‘3’ of my home location…)

    There are PC/MAC/i-Device/Android apps to connect to the Echolink platform (yes, you must be a licensed ham to register and use…they require you to register with a Real Call Sign), but, it’s free to use.

    If you do use the i-Device or Android app, it’s best if you go through a proxy, since the software that’s running the Echo server only downloads the active file once every 10 minutes, so, there is a lag unless you go thru a well-known proxy for your login to be recognized.

    I’ll make the offer, if anyone wants to connect up via my Echo server, be my guest. Just have to be an amateur with an unexpired and listed call sign.

  34. NurseNell says:

    Wow, CQ CQ brings back memories from the early 1960’s being at my friend Ann Joynt’s house in Western New York. Her Dad was a ham radio operator. I was so impressed when we talked one night to someone in Australia. It was a different world then in the dark ages before cyberspace and instant communications.

  35. wa1zau says:

    73s Fr Z. I have been a ham since age 14, an extra class since age 16, and a Roman Catholic all my life. I like ham radio but I love my faith!

  36. czemike says:

    @OrthodoxChick Most hospitals have an amateur radio station in them. In the last decade, through DHS grants, a lot of hospitals in my area had new “ham shacks” installed and are part of the HEART (Hospital Emergency Amateur Radio Team) networks for emergencies. If you’re wanting to get into amateur radio for hospital use you’ll want to learn about APRS as the local HEART net uses that technology to great effect.

    @WB0YLE and Fr. Z — When do you want to do the WDTRS Echolink net? :-)

  37. Art says:

    Just got my Technician and General licenses about a month ago. But since I’m in the process of moving, I haven’t even had the time to start looking for equipment. Any recommendations on good handhelds and mobile stations for emergency use or should I just use eHam’s reviews? How good are the Baofeng handhelds?

  38. Echolink! Very cool. Anyone else interested?

  39. RANCHER says:

    Baofeng (and other Chinese) handhelds are “OK” but have nearly impossible to understand operators manuals and even with software (extra $$) they can be difficult to program properly. For just over $100 the Yaesu FT 60 avoids all of those problems. I have had mine since that model came on the market and it has worked perfectly

  40. incredulous says:

    Echolink on an iphone is great! How about psk? That’s an awesome mode. More efficient than cw.

  41. incredulous says:

    Father, that’s a cool vanity call. Not to smooth on CW, but in print, it’s great.

    Rancher, I got Baofengs for $37/each delivered. As good as any of the ICOM or Yaesu HT’s I’ve had all the while being practically as cheap as an FRS radio. Even a kid can afford to get into radio for that price.

  42. OrthodoxChick says:


    Thanks for the info! I have orientation there next week and I noticed on the agenda that the Communications Dept. will be giving a presentation to us then. Now thanks to you, I’ll know to ask them about it.

  43. exNOAAman says:

    There have been some famous hams who were missionary priests. Back when there was no other way to communicate. And I recall an interview in QST with archbishop Mahony of LA who was a ham from way back. (W6QYI)
    But here locally, we have K3SDS. Obviously a vanity call for a Salvatorian (SDS) priest. (Semi-retired)

  44. N3XFQ.Passed General Exam and couldn’t get past the Morse Code requirement. Since then my license expired.My own fault for putting it off.I see here they since dropped the Morse Code requirement altogether. :(
    One note;in case of an emergency i believe you can use a radio, licensed or not.

  45. MattH says:

    I would try to join in on an Echolink net

  46. Art says:

    Rancher, incredulous:

    Thanks for the info! I’ll keep it in mind when I make my purchase after things settle down.

    Fr. Z:

    I’m also interested in an Echolink net.

  47. Re: Echolink – My callsign was just validated.

  48. Volanges says:

    Hubby is VO2MS. I’ve often thought of getting my license since we have a radio in the car and I’m most often the one driving. Your blog is making me want to start studying.

  49. Jim in Seattle says:

    I am a rank beginner here… Can anyone point me to equipment, training or info source for more on this?

  50. William Eipper says:

    Greetings from radio KS4BG! I’m mostly a CW guy…you never know when the oldest form of digital communication will come in handy.

  51. MWindsor says:

    Never tried Echolink, but it’s suggested for ARES around here. I suppose I could give it a shot, but could someone link a site for figuring it out? I’m SSB only (my head is just too overloaded with other nonsense right now to try CW, and never took time to sort out digital more than was necessary for the various tests).

    And mine would be a challenge – QRP only and antenna challenged. (Gonna order an Alexloop next paycheck, I think).

    Someone asked about TEOTWAWKI power. I use one or two chained GoalZero Nomad 7’s with a Sunforce charge controller. Fits in the Alice pack next to the radio. It charges a flat 12v battery pack (I think it’s 2.8Ah, but not sure), and I have a Ah SLAB too. I can RX all day on the former and TX all day on the later. All my other stuff is AA batteries, and one of the GZ Nomad’s can charge those nicely.

    Texas QSO party at the end of September, Father. Get the General ticket by then and join in!

    KT5WX out.

  52. MWindsor says:

    Jim in Seattle. Try QRZ.com and Google the rest. QRZ has sample tests that are very helpful. As far as equipment, that depends on what you want to do.

  53. Art says:

    Jim in Seattle:

    arrl.org has a lot of information in order to get started. Use it to find your local clubs – they should be able to guide you through the process of getting a license to getting equipment for going on the air. There are a lot of equipment reviews on eHam.net once you figure out what you want to do.

  54. Re Echolink:

    My node (554286) is on an industrial UPS-backed (computer, business-class cable modem, hubs, etc) system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no RF transmitter on it right now (it’s running inside my Allstar repeater controller computer, but the RF link is down due to some (ahem) transmitter issues, so ignore the notice that it’s the RF link to W3SK), so, feel free to use it (if you’re licensed and validated, of course) whenever you like.

    If someone would like to propose a sked time, just let me know so that I can make sure that it’s operational. FWIW, I’m listening now…doesn’t get much use; normal protocol is that when you connect, listen, then announce your callsign. If there is anyone else connected, you’ll see who is online in the app on the right-hand panel of the application.

    But, it’s there for whomever wants to use it. Even (since it is not connected to RF) for ad-hoc meet-ups. Needless to say, be nice, ok?

  55. LarryW2LJ says:

    A “WDTPRS” Conference, now that would be really cool!

  56. moon1234 says:

    For Beginners:
    You need to acquire this book: Ham Radio License Manual with CD ISBN: 978-0872590977

    That book will get you ready for the technician license, which is very easy in my opinion (almost too easy). There are other books in the same series for the general and extra. Be warned that the Extra requires involved knowledge of electronics and electrical theory and those that had trouble with math and physics will need to study a little harder.

    I would highly suggest that when studying you try to understand how all of the pieces fit together. There are a lot of “paper” hams today. By that I mean they study the question pool until they have the answers memorized. It is easy to pass any test when you memorize the answers, but that does not impart actual knowledge. When and if a disaster is present, knowing how everything works will be critical. I have met and heard many paper hams on the air. Be someone who understands the hobby!

    My wife and 13 year old son are also hams. The technician and general exams are not hard. Many local clubs offer a technician course with the test at the end. The course in Madison, WI is two days of video and instructor lead teaching followed by the exam. If you read the book and study for a week or two and then take the course it is pretty hard to fail the exam.

    As to which radio to choose, that is a very hard decision for a new ham. I usually recommend an inexpensive vhf/uhf HT (walkie-talkie). The “big three” I-Com, Yeasu and Kenwood will cost more than anyone else, but they tend to be the most user friendly. You hear a lot of talk from HAMs about the Chinese HTs for good reason. A VHF/UHF HT that performs almost as good as the big three will cost about $45-50 after shipping. That is usually 6-10 times cheaper than anything from the big three that has the same capabilities.

    Most of the Chinese radios are also part 90 accepted. This means they are legal to use on the business band frequencies. You will find a lot of HAMs are also working somewhere where radios are used. This means they can use their radio at work and on the HAM bands, legally at the same time. Also, due to the cost, most won’t cry if they break a $40 radio or drop it in the lake by accident. I guarantee you will cry if you drop a $300-400 HT in the lake.

    The Chinese radios are NOT hard to program once you understand how the Chinese menus are laid out. Almost every radio from China, no matter who makes it, uses the same menu layout. Once you know it, you can pickup almost any radio from China and program it. Is it intuitive when you first get it? Nope, but that is easily fixed with a little experimenting. The programming software is free and there are no less than three other free programs that has been written by hams to make programming easier. In MOST situations you will program all of your local repeaters into a memory channels (channel 1, Channel 2, etc.) and then just use the radio.

    I own six of the little Chinese radios (Baofung and Wouxun) along with two I-Coms (W32a and T7H). All of our family grabs the Chinese radios first. Why? Because if we kill one of them no one is going to cry about the price to replace it. You can also buy enough radios for a TEOTWAWKI event without breaking the bank. If something bad happens you hand a radio to every person in your family, along with a few trusted friends, and you have a little piece of mind.

    HF radios can also be a little expensive. There really aren’t any decent Chinese HF radios yet. A decent one will run a minimum of $500. Antennas and other equipment can easily add another $200-$500 to the cost of the radio. It is fun, but it is not cheap and so I usually recommend VHF/UHF radios for the beginner as they are much cheaper and help one to get comfortable with radios without worrying about breaking the bank.

  57. incredulous says:

    Fr. John Zuhlsdorf says:
    6 August 2014 at 7:39 pm
    Re: Echolink – My callsign was just validated.

    Okay, Father Z is net control. What time are checkins?

    Should be fun.

  58. jpaluh says:

    Father: Why don’t you run a Fr. Z. Net!
    Joe, KB3LUE.

  59. Patrick L. says:

    While I am able to log into the EchoLink directory and see the list of nodes, I’m not able to get EchoLink to connect to a node. I read the FAQ on the website about recommending that the user set up port forwarding, but I don’t have access to the router to which I’m connected. However, the FAQ at the “EchoLink, Firewalls, and Routers” page says “In most cases, you will be able to connect to conference servers, EchoIRLP nodes, and nodes running EchoLink 2.0 or above…”

    Nonetheless, I’m not able to connect to any nodes. I guess it is possible that none of the ones I’ve tried are running the latest version of EchoLink (although this is a little hard to believe). Does anyone know of a node that is running EchoLink 2.0 or above?

    I’ve checked my firewall settings, and the appropriate ports (5198, 5199 UDP. 5200 TCP) appear to be unblocked.

    The strangest thing is that it works fine on my android phone when I’m connected via WIFI to the same router. It just doesn’t work on my laptop.

  60. Patrick L. says:

    I meant to say “…the FAQ at the ‘EchoLink, Firewalls, and Routers’ page says ‘In most cases, you will be able to connect to conference servers, EchoIRLP nodes, and nodes running EchoLink 2.0 or above…’ [even when you haven’t set up port forwarding on your router].”

  61. frjim4321 says:

    Having made me first crystal set at age 10 I think this post is COOL! My first set had the geranium crystal with the cat’s whisker…that was fun. Then my Dad taught me about diodes. Happy, happy memories!

  62. acardnal says:

    Fr. Z, while in Michigan did you use any external antenna like a mag mount or just the antenna on your HT?

  63. acardnal says:

    frjim, did you ever get your license? You probably learned code I imagine.

  64. OrthodoxChick says:

    I have connected with the our local club and I have signed up my oldest son and I for a class (once a week for 5 or 6 weeks) with a test at the end of the class. Class begins in about a week and a half. The goal is to be able to join you HAMs one of these days. Should be fun!

  65. Charles E Flynn says:

    I had an AC Gilbert crystal radio set. It had a piece of perfboard, painted blue, and printed perforated paper templates that showed where the parts and wires went. The parts were made to plug into the perfboard. I strung a piece of wire from a curtain bracket diagonally across my bedroom, to the door hinge, to serve as an antenna.

    There are two things that I vividly recall hearing on my crystal radio: Mrs. Khrushchev saying we should all abandon our weapons and live in peace (having no idea I would meet her charming son Sergei many years later) and the breaking news story about the loss of the submarine USS Thresher (SSN-593).

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